He's only an eighth-grader, but Miles Huff's performance in Rim Country Middle School's stunning upset of Tucson Tortolita was about as gutsy a performance as I've witnessed in 30-plus years of coaching and covering sports.
Competing in the Copper State Jam tournament last weekend, Tortolita and RCMS concluded regulation play tied at 33-33.
The game would not have gone into the extra period if Huff hadn't hit a clutch three-pointer from left baseline to tie up the contest. His nothing-but-net shot, which was launched with a Tucson defender draped all over him, swished through with just six ticks remaining on the game clock.
Tortolita seemed stunned that Huff sank a shot that looked to be barely possible.
Attaining OT against the Tucson school was a big surprise for most who follow the Maverick team. In the Arizona State Junior High/Middle School tournament played last month in Phoenix, Tortolita steamrolled the Mavs by 30-plus points.
Like Huff did at the end of regulation play, he had ice water running through his veins in the overtime period. His six consecutive free throws paced the Mavericks to a 43-39 victory that might go down as RCMS's biggest upset in recent hoop history.
It's not uncommon to see collegiate and professional players misfire on free throws when the outcome of the game is on the line. But Saturday afternoon, a 14-year-old sharpshooter led his team to victory with a performance that would make a much more seasoned player proud.
Copper State Jam Tournament Directors Steve and Marlow Rensch and the long list of sponsors put on probably the state's finest junior high/middle school tournament last weekend.
Tournament games, which were played in four local gymnasiums, went off without a hitch.
Most games were competently officiated and sportsmanship was at a premium. The Rensches also had an extensive list of impressive prizes and awards that were given out at tournament's end to wide-eyed players and coaches.
The not-so-good news with the Copper State Jam is that the all-school tournament, both boys and girls, will move next year to Chandler. Due to the Jams' increasing popularity, the tournament has had to turn some teams away.
According to the directors, there are no more gyms in Payson to handle expansion and hotels are just barely handling the current demand for rooms. Next year, the tournament, which will be open to 24 boys and 24 girls teams, will be played at Chandler High and Willis Junior High Schools.
The Rensches do plan on continuing to host a small school tournament in Payson.
Randalls fish to bronze
By virtue of a third-place finish in the AllStar Bass Team Tournament Feb. 1 at Apache Lake, the Rim country fishing team of brothers Buddy and Jake Randall pocketed $1,050 in prize money. The brothers, who weighed-in a limit of 16.33 pounds, fished crankbaits, spinnerbaits and jigs on the channel edge of the river near Burnt Corral and a hump in the river. The team is sponsored by State Constructors.
The tournament was won by Roger Root of Mesa and Shawn Woolsey of Chandler. The two weighed-in a six-bass limit of 21.38 pounds. The pair earned $4,590 in prize money.
The tournament's big fish award went to Mike Hegarty of Phoenix and Fabrizion Ruggiero of Paradise Valley. The largemouth tipped the scale at 8.73 pounds and earned the two a cash prize of $1,000.